In terms of formal education, I graduated with an honours degree in criminal justice and with a full range of undergraduate experiences, memories, prejudices, hopes and intentions, good and bad. I then embarked on a career that … let’s just say for now that it has nothing to do with criminal justice.
I’m quite civic-minded, I have a strong interest in community and an awareness of belonging to society, and I have developed political views that, while not radical, do not always seem to be in line with the first preferences of people 20 years my senior.
I’m comfortable with technology and its use in everyday social interaction – I’ve never known a world that was not inter-connected without instant communications at my fingertips. But nothing beats face-to-face interaction with people.
I’ve always had an interest in fitness and have been lucky to be born with a body that lends itself easily to pursuing sports. Not that I’m overly competitive. I’m certainly strong willed and determined, but winning at all costs? That’s not for me.
I value experiences over possessions and flexibility over certainty in my everyday life and in my plans for the future. I wonder is that a feature of my age, or the times in which I’m living? Will I prefer security over flexibility someday?
I’ve always lived in a world where women are considered the equal of men, albeit different to men, but know that equality is not always well defined and can remain more an aspiration, albeit a reasonable and realistic one, than a reality for many women. Sometimes attitudes change – slowly – but systems seem to change even more slowly and achieving equality remains unfinished business.
So far, so typical. Oh, nearly forgot to mention. I’ve also faced many of the difficult challenges that confront millennials and I have had my fair share of experiences to match.
I was not always strong willed and, growing up, often put more emphasis on fitting in with the group than asserting or developing my own personality. A nice way to put that might be that I try to put other people first. But I also know I have been a slave to peer pressure at times. Is this still the case?
Not that being a follower is always a bad thing, we can’t all be leaders. But when the follower becomes anonymous, even to themselves, well, that can be a problem.
I know the pressures that face young women today, and I know the impact these pressures can have on young lives, used to the protective shells of families and friends, when they find they are confronted by a world that is not always driven by love. This realisation seems to fall hard, and often suddenly, on millennials.
I know the shock that can be. I know the impact it can have on a young woman. Because I know the impact I felt when I faced the real world. I’ve had my share of bad days. Bad days that sometimes seemed to go on for weeks. But I’ve been very lucky.
I’m lucky because, when I need it most, I’ve always found somewhere to turn for help. I’m lucky because that help has always been there waiting for me, even though it may have been previously invisible to me and unused without me. I’m lucky because I’ve had the courage and humility to accept help. And I’m lucky because I’ve always had the support of those closest to me.
As for the career in criminal justice? I’ve obtained a range of qualifications in fitness and I’ve learned how to use this to build a rewarding career in helping people to harness the power of their bodies to build mental strength. Criminal justice is just not in my future.
I know this much. No one is an island and must never live as such. But your life is yours and yours alone. It can only be what you make it. No one else can make your life for you the way you want it. The strength that’s needed to build the life you want must come from within you.
Whatever your goals and wishes, the only way to achieve them is to first look within yourself. That’s where the journey must start. That’s where the power lives that will make the journey happen.
Look for the light inside you. A light always burns brightest when its surroundings are at their darkest, even if it is only a flicker. When you find that flame, decide to seek out the help and guidance that will enable you to reach your goals. When you make that promise to yourself, you’re ready to go.
And that’s where I come in. You ready to go?
“To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control, that can lead you to be shattered in very extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something very important about the condition of the ethical life: that it is based on a trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed; it’s based on being more like a plant than like a jewel, something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from that fragility.”